Panic has set in among the Dallas Cowboys' fan base after a painful 17-16 loss to the revamped Kansas City Chiefs. It was an ugly display of football with possibly the only silver lining being the play of kicker Dan Bailey who hit three field goals, two of which were longer than 50 yards.
However, it is important that the Cowboys don't panic after a week two loss. Jason Garrett will make sure the team forgets about the game against the Chiefs and is focused solely on the game versus the St. Louis Rams.
What's the key to this team getting back to winning football? The offense has to get better. The defense has played very well, forcing six turnovers in week one and holding the Chiefs to 17 points in week two. You can't really blame this most recent loss on the defense.
Offensively, Dallas cannot give up on the run after only 16 carries. It doesn't matter if the average run per carry is under two yards for those 16 rushing plays. This team HAS to stick with the run throughout the game in order to give Demarco Murray a chance to wear out the defense and get into a rhythm.
The offensive line wasn't opening up huge running lanes for Murray and the Chiefs' front seven is a talented group. They just weren't going to roll over right away. However, the Cowboys must commit to a “will to run” attitude that Garrett and Coach Bill Callahan have preached about so much.
Some delayed handoffs and draw plays might be a better selection of run plays, especially in the red zone. Make the defense bite on the pass with a pump fake and then hand the ball off to Murray and see what happens.
In the passing game, Tony Romo and company need to put the pressure on the Rams' secondary. This team isn't built for the dinky four yard gains we've been seeing on pass plays. For a couple of drives against the Chiefs, Romo to Dez Bryant was an unstoppable duo.
Expect to see more spectacular plays from Bryant against the Rams. Dallas needs to establish the running game, build on that success, and then take some shots down the field in order to keep the defense honest. Romo is a gunslinger but if he's not given the opportunity to throw the ball down the field we'll never see his best football.
In summary this is what I hope to see from the Dallas offense on Sunday.
1. More running plays, more consistently
2. Passes down the field rather than short four yard gains
If Callahan and the Cowboys offense can do these things, the offense will be more successful and put some more points on the board.
I expect Dallas to bounce back with a win this week against a pretty solid Rams team. The offense should play much better, so I'm going to say Dallas wins this game 28-17.